The Cost of Conscience

When the church makes a stand against evil, who foots the bill?

by Mark Hofman

The cost of conscience can be heavy. Bound together by the Word of God, the church pays a heavy cost when we exer-cise our rights as citizens of the United States. “We must, indeed, all hang together,” Benjamin Franklin once quipped while debating the potential cost of gaining freedom, “or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

At the core, there is a cost to send out exceptionally well-formed pastors, teachers and other church workers. We work together as a Synod to sustain two world-class seminaries that provide graduates who publicly proclaim Jesus Christ as the sole Savior of mankind, the Good News that informs and gives purpose to our life together in this world and the next.

There is a cost to forming good citizens who “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). At no small cost, in our life together as a Synod, we operate thousands of schools and nearly a dozen colleges and universities who help parents “train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov. 22:6). We also sustain congregational, district, campus and Synod youth ministries. Graduates of these institutions are actively involved in the witness, mercy and life together of the church, even as they flourish as good citizens of this land.

There is also a cost for bold acts of Christian mercy. Following in the wake of natural disasters, we feed and clothe, provide shelter and counseling. We comfort the grieving, restore the hopeless, offer true compassion and share the saving Gospel with those who are suffering the harshest realities of a fallen world.

There is a cost to the Synod for having a dedicated Life Ministries focus and staff who advocate for the sanctity of all human life from conception to final breath. Together as Synod, we speak with one voice on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves, those who bear the ultimate cost if we remain silent.

There is even a cost to defend our rights as a religious community under the First Amendment of our nation’s Constitution. Recently we witnessed our Synod’s president enter the realm of the government and do just that: He stated that our consciences obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29), because our hearts’ “bed is too narrow” for both God and government (Is. 28:20).

The cost can be heavy for those who have a conscience. As confessing Lutherans, we must be willing to bear that cost. We respond when we pray, work, fight for our rights and give generously.

> Help bear the cost of conscience by giving a gift at http://givenow.lcms.org or by calling 888-930-4438.

About the Author: Mark Hofman is the Synod’s executive director of Mission Advancement.

The Lutheran Witness — Providing Missouri Synod laypeople with stories and information that
complement congregational life, foster personal growth in faith, and help interpret the
contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.

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